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1.  N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamine is a potent neurogenic factor for neural stem cell differentiation 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;125(6):869-884.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been shown to promote neuronal differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in vivo and in vitro. Previously, we found that N-docosahexenoyethanolamine (synaptamide), an endogenous DHA metabolite with endocannabinoid-like structure, promotes neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic function. In this study, we demonstrate that synaptamide potently induces neuronal differentiation of NSCs. Differentiating NSCs were capable of synthesizing synaptamide from DHA. Treatment of NSCs with synaptamide at low nanomolar concentrations significantly increased the number of MAP2 and Tuj-1 positive neurons with concomitant induction of PKA/CREB phosphorylation. Conversely, PKA inhibitors or PKA knockdown abolished the synaptamide-induced neuronal differentiation of NSCs. URB597, a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor, elevated the level of DHA-derived synaptamide and further potentiated the DHA- or synaptamide-induced neuronal differentiation of NSCs. Similarly, NSCs obtained from fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) KO mice exhibited greater capacity to induce neuronal differentiation in response to DHA or synaptamide compared to the wild type NSCs. Neither synaptamide nor DHA affected NSC differentiation into GFAP-positive glia cells. These results suggest that endogenously produced synaptamide is a potent mediator for neurogenic differentiation of NSCs acting through PKA/CREB activation.
doi:10.1111/jnc.12255
PMCID: PMC3775276  PMID: 23570577
synaptamide; neural stem cells; neurogenesis; docosahexaenoic acid; omega-3 fatty acids; PKA; CREB
2.  Depletion of Brain Docosahexaenoic Acid Impairs Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86472.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for proper development and function of the brain where docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the primary omega-3 fatty acid in the brain, is retained avidly by the neuronal membranes. We investigated the effect of DHA depletion in the brain on the outcome of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Pregnant mice were put on an omega-3 fatty acid adequate or deficient diet from gestation day 14 and the pups were raised on the respective diets. Continuation of this dietary regime for three generations resulted in approximately 70% loss of DHA in the brain. Controlled cortical impact was delivered to both groups of mice to produce severe TBI and the functional recovery was compared. Compared to the omega-3 adequate mice, the DHA depleted mice exhibited significantly slower recovery from motor deficits evaluated by the rotarod and the beam walk tests. Furthermore, the DHA deficient mice showed greater anxiety-like behavior tested in the open field test as well as cognitive deficits evaluated by the novel object recognition test. The level of alpha spectrin II breakdown products, the markers of TBI, was significantly elevated in the deficient mouse cortices, indicating that the injury is greater in the deficient brains. This observation was further supported by the reduction of NeuN positive cells around the site of injury in the deficient mice, indicating exacerbated neuronal death after injury. These results suggest an important influence of the brain DHA status on TBI outcome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086472
PMCID: PMC3903526  PMID: 24475126
3.  N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamide promotes development of hippocampal neurons 
The Biochemical journal  2011;435(2):327-336.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6,n−3) has been shown to promote neurite growth and synaptogenesis in embryonic hippocampal neurons, supporting the importance of DHA known for hippocampus-related learning and memory function. In the present study, we demonstrate that DHA metabolism to DEA (N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide) is a significant mechanism for hippocampal neuronal development, contributing to synaptic function. We found that a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor URB597 potentiates DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression. Active metabolism of DHA to DEA was observed in embryonic day 18 hippocampal neuronal cultures, which was increased further by URB597. Synthetic DEA promoted hippocampal neurite growth and synaptogenesis at substantially lower concentrations in comparison with DHA. DEA-treated neurons increased the expression of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits and exhibited enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity, as was the case for DHA. The DEA level in mouse fetal hippocampi was altered according to the maternal dietary supply of n−3 fatty acids, suggesting that DEA formation is a relevant in vivo process responding to the DHA status. In conclusion, DHA metabolism to DEA is a significant biochemical mechanism for neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression, leading to enhanced glutamatergic synaptic function. The novel DEA-dependent mechanism offers a new molecular insight into hippocampal neurodevelopment and function.
doi:10.1042/BJ20102118
PMCID: PMC3169088  PMID: 21281269
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DEA); hippocampus; neurite growth; neuron; synaptogenesis
4.  Phosphatidylserine is a critical modulator for Akt activation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(6):979-992.
Association of Akt with phosphatidylserine enhances binding to PIP3, inducing conformational changes in Akt that promote its phosphorylation-mediated activation.
Akt activation relies on the binding of Akt to phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3) in the membrane. Here, we demonstrate that Akt activation requires not only PIP3 but also membrane phosphatidylserine (PS). The extent of insulin-like growth factor–induced Akt activation and downstream signaling as well as cell survival under serum starvation conditions positively correlates with plasma membrane PS levels in living cells. PS promotes Akt-PIP3 binding, participates in PIP3-induced Akt interdomain conformational changes for T308 phosphorylation, and causes an open conformation that allows for S473 phosphorylation by mTORC2. PS interacts with specific residues in the pleckstrin homology (PH) and regulatory (RD) domains of Akt. Disruption of PS–Akt interaction by mutation impairs Akt signaling and increases susceptibility to cell death. These data identify a critical function of PS for Akt activation and cell survival, particularly in conditions with limited PIP3 availability. The novel molecular interaction mechanism for Akt activation suggests potential new targets for controlling Akt-dependent cell survival and proliferation.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201005100
PMCID: PMC3063130  PMID: 21402788
5.  Docosahexaenoic acid promotes hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;111(2):510-521.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulated in the brain during development, has been implicated in learning and memory, but underlying cellular mechanisms are not clearly understood. Here, we demonstrate that DHA significantly affects hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function in developing hippocampi. In embryonic neuronal cultures, DHA supplementation uniquely promoted neurite growth, synapsin puncta formation and synaptic protein expression, particularly synapsins and glutamate receptors. In DHA-supplemented neurons, spontaneous synaptic activity was significantly increased, mostly because of enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity. Conversely, hippocampal neurons from DHA-depleted fetuses showed inhibited neurite growth and synaptogenesis. Furthermore, n-3 fatty acid deprivation during development resulted in marked decreases of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits in the hippocampi of 18-day-old pups with concomitant impairment of long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory. While levels of synapsins and NMDA receptor subunit NR2A were decreased in most hippocampal regions, NR2A expression was particularly reduced in CA3, suggesting possible role of DHA in CA3-NMDA receptor-dependent learning and memory processes. The DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis, synapsin, and glutamate receptor expression, and glutamatergic synaptic function may represent important cellular aspects supporting the hippocampus-related cognitive function improved by DHA.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06335.x
PMCID: PMC2773444  PMID: 19682204
docosahexaenoic acid; hippocampal development; long-term potentiation; neurite growth; synaptic function; synaptogenesis

Results 1-5 (5)